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Individual and Contextual Effects on Stress and Job Satisfaction: A Study of Prison Staff

NCJ Number
Work and Occupations Volume: 13 Issue: 1 Dated: (February 1986) Pages: 131-156
J R Blau; S C Light; M Chamlin
Date Published
26 pages
Correctional guards and other staff working in 10 prisons in New York State were surveyed by questionnaire to determine the extent to which stress and job satisfaction are influenced by both individual and organizational characteristics.
Respondents included 3,120 of the 12,000 employees in 14 facilities. The responses from the facilities for which the response rate was at least 20 percent were included in the analysis, for a total of 2,638 responses regarding stress and 2,285 responses regarding job satisfaction. Some findings failed to support commonly held assumptions, such as the one that guard work is inherently more stressful than that of other prison staff. Contrary to the results of many studies, marriage was found to be positively related to stress, suggesting that marital ties fail to function as a support system for individuals who work in isolated institutions. Results for religion provided additional support for this conclusion. Nonwhite personnel experienced significantly less stress than whites. Job satisfaction also appeared to depend on the discipline and control exercised over inmates and on the authority of prison officials over staff. The conclusion is reached that the social control that best serves the needs of staff is contrary to the informal arrangements that promote the well-being of prison inmates. Tables, notes, and 73 references.